Tennis Prose



Filipino Tennis Culture of Gambling on Matches

I have a friend Ryan Arguelles who is a serious player in The Philippines and he often tells about the intriguing contrasts of the American and Filipino tennis culture. The main difference is how prevalent betting on local matches is in the south eastern Asian archipelagic country located in the western Pacific Ocean.

While tennis is a social sport of leisure, exercise and serious devotion in America, in The Philippines it is all those things and a very popular outlet for heavy gambling activity.

Ryan explains: “This is what I do! I make money on tennis by going to different cities to play. People and players already know your category because you have done many battles already. No acting and drama no more because the bet is 20k to 50k dollars and the whole community bets on your game.”

“This (above and below posters) are an example of promotion of a tennis encounter or derby on schedule fiesta day. There is already a hidden agreement of betting among financiers and promoter. It is very organized and gentleman agreement.”

“These are the main event but many undergrads are also in line to play this is from morning up to 3 am in the morning order of play.”

“Some tennis structure and places are modern, some are old tennis courts regardless of place and cities the tennis derby is every Saturday and Sunday on festival day where it is holiday on the particular city. Money tennis is huge here that’s why I love it here, Scoop. In America only the professionals are making money in tennis here in Philippines even club players make money if you win. There is financiers to finance your game if they trust your game.”

Front row viewing at Molave Moltec.

The Philippines has produced a handful of world class players in history, including Felisimo Ampong, who competed in the Roy Emerson era. The diminutive Ampong stood only about five-feet tall but for what he lacked in physical attributes he made up for with a tenacious spirit, speed and extraordinary will power. Among battled with the best players in his era and gained worldwide respect and renown.

There have been several high ranked juniors like Jeson Patrombon, (once ranked no. 6 ITF) over the years, but due to funding issues their professional careers struggled to develop and fulfill properly. Many other talented Filipino juniors have their potential limited by lack of equipment and lack of opportunity to compete and train with high quality juniors. Today the best Filipino hope is Alex Eala, a talented fifteen year old from Quezon City, who is the reigning Australian Open girls doubles champion and currently ranked 622 in the WTA. The lefthander trains at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy full time in Mallorca, Spain and she has hit with 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Eala is ranked no. 2 in the world by the ITF.

“Those tennis players in the posters for tennis encounter are actually at par with Jeson Patrombon in doubles and these Filipino young tennis players beat Patrombon in money game, Patrombon once ranked as no. 6 in ITF juniors,” says Arguelles. “Imagine these Filipino young tennis players who if were given a chance to compete and train in ITF tournaments and train at tennis academies they could be deadly because their psychological and mental game is superior because of experience in money tennis. But the location of Philippines is also a hindrance, we are located in the middle of the sea away from Europe, America, Australia, middle East and even East Asia like Japan and Korea, China. We are in the middle of Pacific Ocean composed of thousands of islands. We actually ride boats to play in another island for commercial money tennis.”

If any tennis nation deserves a world champion in the future, it’s the Philippines, the origin of the greatest boxer in the history of prizefighting, the world champion of eight different weigh divisions – the incomparable Manny Pacquiao.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · April 19, 2021 at 11:27 am

    “Though there is a culture of gambling among Filipino tennis enthusiasts it is still illegal in the eyes of the law here though it is an open secret.”

  • Rocky · April 19, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Yes, Filipino gambling culture is all in their sports! Golf, darts, cockfigjting, basketball, boxing, volleyball, soccer, horserace, pigeon race, online xockfighting, and even in their traditional sport Filipino bet money. Even on national and local election they wagered money on who win the election.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 19, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    Rocky, thanks for the insights. In other words Filipinos bet on everything ) Betting on local tennis matches adds extra intrigue and interest for spectators and it’s a fun activity for all, as long as no one loses too big. It’s very rare for there to be any money matches in US, though a Wall Street guy I played in a usta tournament told me his boss bet $10,000 on him once and he lost in a third set tiebreaker, costing his boss the ten grand. But in thirty years it’s the only example I know of.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 28, 2021 at 11:26 am

    More on Filipino tennis culture…

    Reflexes sent Today at 9:57 AM
    They call it here tennis derby or tennis encounter. It is a scheduled tennis event with already line up matches for whole day with an agreed minimum bet like 50k to 3 or 5m pesos it depends of the event of cities, municipalities or provincial events like fiesta, anniversary, birthday, etc etc. The important thing is word of honor you showed up and pay when you lose. That’s it, the add is like a boxing match completes with bravado and psychological warfare. They would not say nice things if you made an ace they will tell you thats only lucky shot. They will go inside your head psychologically to intimidate you but only with words the game is to be respected with referee and arbiter the final decision.

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